Ask Dr. Intranet

BOSTON (06/05/2000) - With all the new e-mail viruses going around (Melissa, ILOVEYOU, etc.), how do you protect yourself?

First, I have the luxury of being able to log on to our mail server and preview my e-mail on the Unix server. Microsoft Corp. macro viruses won't do any harm there. This lets me weed out a large amount of mail that I don't need to download. Second, I don't use Microsoft mail clients. Third, I don't open attachments unless I absolutely have to. E-mail attachments are a carrier's dream and a working man's nightmare. Do you realize how big a one-paragraph note becomes when you put it into a word processing program attachment? For example, this column is more than 20 times larger as a Word document than as an ASCII text file. I don't have time to mess around launching applications to read attachments I don't care about. Unless I know the sender and I know that I care about what they sent me in the attachment, I don't open attachments.

Even so, I have occasionally messed up. At that point there are two more lines of defense: I keep the important stuff backed up, and I keep my virus software current. The last virus that almost got me came in a PowerPoint attachment that tried to hide itself from Windows. MacAfee identified the virus as uncleanable and locked my machine. I powered down, booted up Linux and erased the file.

Blass is a network architect at Sprint Paranet in Houston. He can be reached at

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

More about MicrosoftSprint

Show Comments